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Pool party to honor children

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Health Resources of Arkansas is hosting a pool party at the Salem City Pool July 21 in honor of children's mental well-being and Staci Ringwald, Region 7 Child and Adolescent Service System Program coordinator, said it is going to be a treat for children and parents alike.

"We (CASSP Region 7 Team) wanted to sponsor a community event to help families become aware of opportunities for strengthening children's mental wellness," Ringwald said. "We surveyed the local Salem community for children's activities that families would enjoy in the spirit of Children's Mental Health Matters."

The CASSP aims to improve the emotional and mental health of children, who otherwise may not receive the appropriate attention, Ringwald said.

Although Abby is not her real name, Ringwald recalled a specific little girl that, with the help of CASSP and many others, found a chance to heal her emotional scars.

"Abby was emotionally and sexually abused until she entered foster care at age 13. She was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and was repeatedly suicidal with severe depression, anxiety and flashbacks," Ringwald said.

"Abby was referred to CASSP after 12 short and long-term placements in a psychiatric facility over one year. She went to live with her grandma and began receiving weekly or twice weekly therapy and case management services. CASSP assisted Abby with clothing, mentoring, volunteering at the humane society, therapeutic horseback riding and securing tutoring," Ringwald said.

"She maintained in the community for three months before a last short hospital stay," Ringwald said.

"Upon her return, services were again wrapped around her and she began to report a decrease in symptoms. Abby currently has zero flashbacks and has been out of a hospital for 10 months. We are so proud of her accomplishments," Ringwald said.

"The function of CASSP in the words of our parent and youth representatives is to 'provide youths and families with tools for children's mental wellness.' By providing needed tools and wrapping care around our youths who struggle with emotional difficulties, we can hopefully help children and adolescents receive services and natural supports from within their local communities and prevent or reduce out-of-community placements," she said.

For youth in Fulton County, children and adolescents who have serious emotional disturbances and meet the CASSP criteria may be referred to CASSP for the coordination of a Wraparound Plan of Care developed by the family, other service providers and natural community support persons, Ringwald said.

"It is also our goal through the CASSP Regional Team to connect with families to hear their voices about needed services and changes within the Arkansas Behavioral Health System of Care, she said.

"With this in mind, we are coordinating community events such as this one in Salem to connect with families and hear their voices," she said.

At the July 21 pool party two parent speakers will be in attendance. Sarah Parton and Victoria Adams are parent representatives of the CASSP Regional Planning Team for Region 7. Their stories highlight the struggles of being parents of children with emotional difficulties.

Together, they offer other parents, families and youth support and ideas for advocacy within the Behavioral Health System of Care, Ringwald said.

For more information including referral forms visit www.healthresourcesofarkansas.com/conten... or call Ringwald at 870-793-8925 ext. 1907.

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